Rolling Out

Adidas drops final batch of Yeezy shoes

The shoemaker makes good on its pledge to unload rapper’s kicks
Ye wears a red MAGA and Black shirt.
Photo credit: / Ron Sachs - CNP

Adidas, the iconic sportswear giant, has dropped its third and final batch of Yeezy sneakers, the once-coveted kicks that lost their luster after the brand cut ties with Ye West, the rapper formerly Kanye West. The move is part of adidas’ savvy plan to deal with the massive pile of Yeezy shoes left unsold after the company ended its partnership with West in October 2022 following his outrageous and offensive remarks that sparked outrage and backlash. The company has been facing the dilemma of how to get rid of 1.2 billion euros worth of Yeezy shoes without compromising its ethical standards and social values.

In a clever twist of philanthropy and commerce, adidas has linked the sales of these hot-ticket sneakers with donations to groups that fight against antisemitism and other forms of hate. This strategy solves the inventory problem and aligns the brand with social justice movements, making a bold statement of corporate responsibility. The recipients of these donations include the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, led by Philonise Floyd, a leading voice for social justice and the brother of George Floyd. Moreover, in a symbolic show of support against antisemitism, shoes sold directly by adidas in North America come with blue square pins, a campaign by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

The decision to sell Yeezy sneakers was made after weighing various options. Adidas carefully ruled out choices such as destroying the inventory, which would have environmental consequences or hiding the brand on the shoes, which would be dishonest. The company rejected giving the shoes away, fearing they might unintentionally create a resale market. Ultimately, selling the sneakers and donating part of the profits emerged as the most sensible and impactful option.

The latest launch, which started online on Monday, Feb. 26, features products from the 2022 collection, including some of adidas’ most popular designs. This strategy helps adidas responsibly clear out the unsold inventory and allows the brand to give back to worthy causes. Last year, adidas made 750 million euros in revenue from two Yeezy launches, showing a strong market demand despite the reduced sales from 1.2 billion euros in 2022.

This initiative by adidas demonstrates a progressive approach to tackling corporate challenges while making a positive difference in society. Adidas sets an example of how brands can handle controversies with honesty and purpose by turning a complicated situation into a chance for social impact.

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